The wife of actor Ron Eli, who played Tarzan in the 1960s, was killed after her son stabbed her at a family home in California on Tuesday night, police said.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office said police were called in an emergency call to the couple's home in Hope Ranch over a family brawl and found Valerie Lundin Eli, 62, killed "with several knife stabs".

Police immediately identified the suspect as Cameron Eli, the couple's 30-year-old son, and killed him after they considered him a threat.

There was no word on the possibility that Ron Eli, 81, was injured in the attack on his wife, but police said he was taken to hospital in a precautionary measure and later discharged.

Ellie is best known for his starring role in the series "Tarzan" in the sixties, with three children from his wife, who was a former Miss.